With work, family responsibilities, and feeling drained in the evening from a long, busy day, often the only time you can squeeze in your workout is to set your alarm for 4, 5, or 6 in morning to sweat it out then. Early-morning workouts are a great way to get your blood pumping and relieve any prework stress. Plus, getting it done first thing in the morning means you don't have to worry about fitting it in during the rest of your crazy day. With that said, there are some things you need to consider if you choose to exercise in the a.m.
Since you're getting up pretty early, make sure you're not compromising on getting enough shut-eye. Most people need about seven to eight hours every night, so be sure to hit the hay early enough to get your sleep quota. While getting in regular exercise can help you lose or maintain your weight, not getting enough sleep can actually slow down your metabolism and cause your body to store fat, undoing the good you're doing by making time to work out.
Also, because you've been without food for at least eight hours, the question comes up — to eat or not to eat? A small study (28 people) published in the Journal of Physiology found that exercising on an empty stomach, which is easiest to do in the early morning, helped the muscles burn more fat for fuel during the workout. Still, another study published in Strength and Conditioning Journal concluded that your body burned about the same amount of fat whether you ate or not and that exercising on an empty causes your body to hold on to fat and target your lean muscles for fuel instead, breaking down the muscles you're working so hard to build. Your lean muscles also help to boost your metabolism, so you definitely don't want to lose them. Since eating in the morning gives your body enough fuel to work out, improves your endurance, and can also jump-start your metabolism, we recommend eating a little something that includes easily digestible carbs and protein, such as half a banana and a few almonds. Not a fan? Here are tips on how to choose the right pre-workout snack.
Before hitting your cardio workout at full speed, make sure you warm up for at least five minutes first. It'll make your body and mind more alert, which will help prevent clumsiness that can lead to injury. Stretch and hydrate after your workout, and refuel with a healthy post-workout snack or light breakfast that includes protein and carbs.